Are We There Yet?

Don't Be Silent in the Face of InjusticeIn these remaining few more days of Black History Month and beyond, let us not forget the message of unity, love, and justice of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King. Dr. King was a servant leader, fully aware of the injustices, and yet was able to work towards justice in a spirit of love. He was truly a voice of conscience that rings beyond the grave. By his example I learned that while I must be aware of the goings on in the world, at the same time not let it steal the joy in the moment. Ignorance is not bliss and neither is anger or hate. We must be aware; be sensitive; speak out against injustice; be loving even to our enemies, be encouraging to those who are grieving or being persecuted, and most importantly, we must DO what WE can to change the world.

This week a Facebook post really got to me.  It was of a young African-American being harassed, beaten, restrained, and kicked.  He kept screaming, “Why are yall doing this to me?” He was being treated like an animal. Evidently he’d stepped off a bus and was immediately accosted by two police.  I was so visibly moved that I wrote the following FB post.

This made me cry for two reasons!!!! 1) Because this is still happening. 2) Because it’s a reminder of when one on my son’s on his Spring break from college had something similarly humiliating done to him! Handcuffed, made to get on the ground, cops being verbally abusive, and yes he was scared to death. Yes! And he was innocent, and NO he didn’t have his pants hanging, and NO he didn’t have on a hoodie, and NO, he doesn’t drink or smoke AND IT DIDNT MATTER! It’s hard for wounds to heal when the scab keeps getting ripped off! The only difference is he kept quiet. BUT, some caged birds have to scream though!!! If you scream though, it makes things worse, as you see in the video links below.

Why was this man being harassed for just stepping off of  a bus? Thankfully someone recorded it. Two other police come to the scene and one ends up putting his foot on the guys face while he’s on the ground and is kicking him in the face. And it appears like one is almost sitting on the guy’s head. The poor young man is screaming, “Why are you doing this to me?,” but to no avail. Bystanders are watching and walking by, but feel helpless to help.  This is the police; what can they do? Are we there yet? Watch the Video and You decide!!!!!! The language is foul, but so is the indignity put upon this young man.  Then I learn that this is routine for NYC if you are Black or Latino. They missed one young man who videoed it, but not this one, eight cops just arrest him for videoing the atrocityy.  Are we in a police state? Where are our freedoms?  What about due process, human rights, and human respect?

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.”

“We will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It looked like something out of Dr. King’s era. I can only wonder if we are breeding an endless cycle of hatred. What came first the chicken or egg? I’m thinking about those kids being harassed day after day and wondering if they are going to grow up loving or hating whites. In some places those chickens will one day come home to roost if they ever get in a position to return the hate that has built up in them from so many years of being powerless. In other cases led by the example of numerous people of every color disgusted by the old guard and preaching and demonstrating love and peace, (like many Bahai’s and others I know), the system will slowly but surely be changed for the better. We are one human race and there is just one planet and one people. I have to keep in mind always that while there are many horrific examples of humans at their worst, but I’m happy to say, I do see so many examples of humans at their best too!  Thank you Dr. King for showing us how to love our enemies, to stand up for justice, and to not remain silent, yet we be guilty too.

Another message that matters from Barbara Talley

Pray for The Exploited Children

homepageadMy Facebook status box asked, “What’s on your mind?” I had planned my day very differently and thinking or writing about child exploitation was not on my list.

But then I  received an email from Innocents at Risksharing the good news that 245 perverts and exploiters of children had been arrested.  Great good news for a change. But so many are still missing and being exploited. I’d rather not know this.  I’d rather think about something else.  I’d rather turn away, but that won’t make this problem go away. The picture above from the ‘Innocents at Risk’ website reveals the horrid reality. Nobody wants to see a child hurt, but it is the turning away that allows it to continue. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people!”

Please don’t turn away because this is painful.  You can help in so many way!  “The sexual abuse of young children, often at the hands of people they trust, is a particular wrong,” said ICE Director John Morton in the ICE report. These exploited children have had their innocence stolen. I’m reminded of a stanza in Courtni Webbs poem about victimization and innocence.  Courtni was suspended from school from writing a poem that included these lines.

They want to hold me back
I run but they attack

My innocence I want back
I used to smile

Awareness and prevention are paramount.  It’s impossible to totally restore these children to wholeness and innocence. Many exploited children will turn to drugs, exploiting other children, or end up in jail or the morgue. Storing up the hatred for their perpetrators (and the silent by-standers) for a lifetime of victimization can cause these kids to act out. You have probably noticed kids that seem a “bit off” and probably ignored it.  You might be their savior. Keep your eyes and your heart open to hurting children.

So, what’s on your mind today? Today and everyday we have a choice of what to think about, care about, and pray about. DID YOU KNOW THAT BABIES AS YOUNG AS 3 ARE BEING EXPLOITED FOR THE SEX TRADE?  These atrocities are happening in our own back yard, in our own country. Your daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, cousins, sisters, brothers, neighbors, church members, and students are potentially at risk.  Trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry and no group, gender, or class is immune.

110 victims were just rescued in 19 of our United States. Victims were as young as 3, with 35 were under the age of nine!  Both young boys and girls are victims. Please don’t ignore this! Unfortunately, we tend to LIKE catchy sound bites, but ignore the serious issues unless they affect us personally.  Please people pray for the children, especially those exploited or about to be exploited. If another mothers babies are unsafe, it’s my issue too.  Everyone CAN do something, even if it is to educate others and PRAY! Please LIKE if you’re going to PRAY, COMMENT, OR SHARE.  Those are ACTIONS.

Don’t just look out for the weird-do or the stranger.  People you know could be exploiting children right under your nose. NCMEC CEO John Ryan. “They could be your neighbors’ children, your child’s classmate, or even your own child. We thank Director Morton and everyone at ICE for their strong commitment to rescuing the most vulnerable of victims.”  You can read the entire article at the ICE website but here is an excerpt.

“HSI and partner law enforcement agencies arrested 245 individuals during the operation, which took place Nov. 1 to Dec. 7. Of the 123 victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states.  Of the 123 victims identified during Operation Sunflower: five were under the age of 3, nine were ages 4 to 6; 21 were ages 7 to 9; 11 were ages 10 to 12; 38 were ages 13 to 15; and 15 were ages 16 to 17. Twenty-four of the victims identified are now adults who were victimized as children. Seventy were female and 53 were male.”

Check out ICE’s facebook page to keep abreast of what they are doing and how you can help.  They regularly post pictures of the innocent and those who are perpetrators.  Also the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  offers training on how you can help.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

Uncivil Rights to Write: Backlash on Courtni the Poet

The  headline read, ‘Courtni Webb, San Francisco High School Senior, Suspended For Writing Poem About Sandy Hook Shooting.’  I don’t know if I picked up on the headline because I’m a mother, a poet, or just a human being trying to understand those senseless shootings of those babies in Connecticut like everyone else. At first, only a few lines of her poem were being broadcasted around the country and judged. Some thought that while she had the right, her timing and words were insensitive and that her words were ‘dark’.

If I can’t be loved, no one can
If I can’t be happy, no one will
I understand the killings in conneticut

The reviews were mixed, some wanting zero tolerance in schools said that she should be suspended so that more tragedies like the one in Sandy Hook wouldn’t be repeated.  Some focused on her spelling and the fact that a high school senior couldn’t spell. Others thought the school had violated her rights since the poem was in her personal notebook and that the teacher had violated her rights when she went through Courtni’s personal notebook without her permission. Admittedly, the whole country is  still shocked about the shootings and so it seems so was a 17-year old girl, who wrote a poem about it and was suspended from school. So many people had asked about the poem that her mother posted the poem on Huff Post (San Francisco).   Her mother wrote: “My daughters poem…you all wanted to read…

They want to hold me back

I run but they attack
My innocence I want back
I use to smile
They took my kindness for weakness
The silence the world will never get
I understand the killings in conneticut
I know why he pulled the trigger
The government is a shame
Society never wants too take the blame
Society puts these thoughts in our head
Misery loves company
If I can’t be loved, no one can
If I can’t be happy, no one will
I understand the killings in conneticut
If every starts out the same, why don’t we have the same opportunities
Why are we oppressed by a community of haters and blamers
When you don’t feel loved you hate the world
When you hate the there’s no exceptions
Why should they have innocence, when ours is gone…

I want to thank her mother for posting the whole poem because it helps to put her daughter’s poem in perspective. While people are trying to understand the killer in the Sandy Hook slayings, why not someone affected by the killings, who didn’t do anything?  Courtni’s poem indicated that she wanted her innocence back.  Her poem spoke of being ‘attacked‘ as she was trying to run away.  Was she being attacked?  She spoke of how she ‘used to smile‘ and how her ‘kindness was taken for weakness.’ Courtni said she could understand, NOT that she wanted to do the same. I would suspect that the question, “What would make a person do something so heinous, had to go through many people’s minds.” Newcasters were asking the same questions!  Everyone was trying to understand!  How many would be fired or expelled by the same standards that were used against this girl (for trying to understand?) What if someone wrote a song, or play, or book (as they tend to do) about this tragedy? They would become rich, so what’s so different about what this young girl did?

This young poet answered the question of “Why or How could someone..?” through her poetry. Perhaps she was responding to,”Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his moccasins.” Courtni spoke of injustice, “If every[one] starts out the same, why don’t we have the same opportunities?” She spoke of  not being loved as a possible reason why the killer could have done what he did.  And she challenges society to take some of the blame, “Society never wants too take the blame- Society puts these thoughts in our head.”  She felt that he was disconnected, unloved and unhappy AND perhaps that’s why he did it.  Perhaps it was a cry for help. Perhaps it was just her mind trying to make sense of such a senseless act. Perhaps it was a wake up call for society to understand that a violent warring society produces more of the same and it affects us here and not just our troops in war torn countries.

How much violence is there in some communities, on television, in games, in sports, in our children’s textbooks at school, and in America’s sordid history? Have you looked at the violence and bullying stats lately? According to National School Safety Center and reported on MBNBD, “90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying!” First we create an environment of violence, then we as a society turn a blind eye to our children’s pain, THEN WE CENSOR them from communicating what they are thinking and feeling, and FINALLY when they EXPLODE we ask,”What’s wrong?” So, who’s to blame? Consider these facts from the Neilsen Ratings,

Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000—

Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000-

Percentage of Americans who believe TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem: 79%.

And remember the young man who murdered the children in Connecticut had a mother who had weapons in the home which he had easy access to.  I’m not condoning what he did, I’m just saying society facilitates this disconnection in people.

As a poet and a mother of a daughter who is a poet. I am greatly disturbed by this young lady being suspended. When I was a child  a half century ago, I wrote about oppression and my daughter does the same today. Writing was my therapy and does the same for my daughter. I’ve never hurt anyone and neither has she. Some things we write we share and some don’t. We write what we feel in our own personal journals. Setting a precedence like this (of closing the one outlet a person has to reflect and communicate safely) is dangerous because it could potentially scare kids who might find healing in writing out their thoughts.  Courtni was just trying to understand our crazy, mixed up, and violent world. Perhaps we should spend a little more time trying to make sense of this world too! Too many adults have just stopped trying to understand.  Women are abused every few seconds. Human trafficking has become a 32 billion dollar annual industry. Over a million children are dropping out of school every year.

When people (young or old)  become insensitive and stop caring or trying to understand others, we call them cold, inhuman, and dysfunctional. I feel that Courtni was just trying to understand. If she were a musician, perhaps she would have written a song.  If she were an author, she’d have written a book.  But she was a poet, so she wrote a poem. While most thought, “Too bad, so sad,” and went back to their ‘regularly scheduled programs’, Courtni was still haunted by the killings.  Poets and sensitive people somehow need to try to make sense out of the senseless actions going on in our worlds. Poetry is an outlet and humanity’s conscience. How are her words any different than the music lyrics in some songs, or the ranting threats of some of our radio personalities? Some get paid; some get suspended. Poets have been gifted and tasked to capture humanity’s story and that was what she was trying to do.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.